Sunday, March 27, 2016

Framingham Old Academy


The Framingham Old Academy at Framingham Centre.

This building has been leased from the town by the Framingham Historical Society (oops, Framingham History Center) since 1916. The Old Academy was built by Dexter and Adam Hemenway to house the Framingham Academy in 1837 right on the site of the previous Academy (a brick building). From 1851 to 1915, the building served as a high school for the town of Framingham. In 1915, school activities were moved to the Jonathan Maynard building, right next door.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Old Firehouse on Hollis Street


The old Downtown Framingham firehouse at 160 Hollis Street.

The firehouse was completed in 1896. Like many fire stations of that era, it features a high drying tower where the hoses were hung to dry after each mission. It now houses the Amazing Things Art Center. I believe this historic building was kind of left hanging when a new fire station was getting built for bigger and better trucks, so it's a good thing the old brick Hollis fire station was re-purposed to house Amazing Things (AT).

Monday, March 21, 2016

Alice Pearmain's "Four Winds"


"Igor's Mansion" aka "The Four Winds", the house that Alice Pearmain built on the side of the mountain.

This concrete house was built on the side of Nobscot mountain at the turn of the 20th century by Alice Upton Pearmain. It was demolished so don't go looking for it.

Alice Pearmain went to school at Wellesley college (class of 1883). Back then, she was known as Alice Upton. In 1886, she became Alice Pearmain as she married Sumner Pearmain of Boston, a banker and broker. Alice was the mother of four children. Her oldest son, William Robert Pearmain, was a painter. Apparently, he was good buddy with George de Forest Brush.

The house was designed by Alice Pearmain herself and built by Benj. A. Howes, Engineer.


Blueprints of Alice Pearman's house in Framingham. From "Concrete country residences" By "Atlas Portland Cement Company".


Ad for Benjamin Howes featuring the Pearmain house in "Country Life" of September 1908.


Short biographies for the Pearmains in "Who's who in America", Volume 11, 1920-21.

In the above article, we learn that "Four Winds" was located on Wayside Inn Road and that it was inhabited, at least, part-time. That concrete house was featured in architectural magazines as some kind of wonder of the modern world. Surely, somebody out there knows the why of its demise. Concrete houses are fairly common in old Europe but failed to catch on in the US, probably because wood is widely available, easy to work on, and quite cheap. Here, it seems that they (the designer and builder) might have a gone a tad overboard and used a little bit too much of the concrete.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

150 Singletary Lane, Framingham, MA


The house at 150 Singletary Lane, Framingham, MA.

This is a rather poor rendition of the house situated at 150 Singletary Lane, a glorious Georgian style house reminiscent of George Washington's Mount Vernon. Well, it is the house that Dr. Eugene Gaston built for his family back in 1942. There is a piece of granite with his name engraved on it at the entrance of the driveway to confirm it.

Dr. Eugene Gaston was a staff surgeon at the Framingham hospital for 49 years. He was also an associate clinical professor of surgery at Boston University School of Medicine. He wrote numerous articles in medical journals about the digestive system. He was born in Peoria, Illinois, was raised in Kansas and attended the University of Kansas for three years before entering Harvard Medical School. As a side note, he was at one point the medical columnist for the magazine "Bicycling", so one can safely assume that he was an avid bicyclist.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Henry Hobson Richardson

Henry Hobson Richardson is known for two things: the Trinity Church in Boston and the railway station in Framingham. Nah, just kidding, he's part of the holy trinity of American architects with Louis Sullivan and Frank LLoyd Wright, so he's a really big deal. Even though the train station in Framingham doesn't really come up at the top of the charts when listing Richardson's achievements, it is fair to say that it is an important building in American architecture. It was built in 1883 (Richardson died in 1886) for the Boston & Albany railroad company. Until recently, it was kind left to its own demises. Now, it's the home of the Deluxe Station Diner where you can get excellent pancakes in a rather interesting steampunk inspired decor. By the way, good on them for finally getting rid of those green and white awnings.

What's striking about the Framingham train station is the wide hip roof and the extended eaves, probably inspired from Japanese architecture. The main dormer also displays the Syrian arch, a trait found in many of his other buildings. Whether he liked to design train stations or that's where the money was (I suspect the latter), Richardson built a bunch of those train depots for the B&A (Boston & Albany railroad) and, as you would imagine, they all look kinda similar but so different at the same time.

For more info on Henry Hobson Richardson, it would be best to consult Henry Hobson Richardson on Wikipedia.


South Framingham railway station designed by Henry Hobson Richardson.


Henry Hobson Richardson (from portrait by Sir Hubert von Herkomer exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.)